Day 23 of Meghalaya mine mishap: No substantive result achieved

Shillong: The multi-agency efforts to rescue miners did not
yield any substantive result on the 23rd day of the operation Friday, as Navy
and NDRF divers failed to venture inside the main shaft to search for the 15
trapped diggers with no visible change in the water level though they waited
all day. Sharing details about the day’s exercise, operation spokesperson R
Susngi told PTI the Fire Service from Odisha has completed pumping out 9 lakh
litres of water in the nearby old shaft using two pumps before they stopped
work at 5 pm.

Although the
water level in the abandoned mines nearby went down, the water level at the
main shaft has to reduce by about 60 feet from its current level of 160 feet
before the rescue divers can operate safely, he said. Pumping of water is
stopped by 5 pm everyday due to the risks involved in handling the machines at
night, Susngi said.

According to
the operation spokesperson, the service of the search and rescue divers cannot
be utilised at the 370 foot-deep shaft where the miners are trapped as there is
no significant drop in water level. Although Coal India Ltd got their pumps
inserted in the abandoned mines in the afternoon, fitting and connection of
pipes is going on, Susngi said. Two pumps from major pump maker Kirloskar
Brother Ltd are also inserted at the main shaft where the miners were trapped
but fittings are not completed by the end of Friday, he said.

Divers from
the Indian Navy will determine the water level at the main shaft once the pumps
begin dewatering for at least 6 hours continuously as expected by Saturday,
according to Susngi. At least 15 miners were trapped in the 370 foot-deep
illegal coal mine in Lumthari village of East Jaintia Hills district since
December 13 and all efforts to pump the water out of flooded mine have been in

The owner of
the illegal rat-hole mine Krip Chullet was arrested on the evening of December
14. The government has spent roughly over Rs 50 lakh for hiring various
utilities to rescue the trapped miners. On Thursday, the Supreme Court had
expressed strong dissatisfaction over the rescue efforts to trace the miners
and had asked the state government to bring them out dead or alive.

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